It's not too early to
judge the results of
The American Spark
Iraq Bombers Massacre Shiite Pilgrims
By Cliff Montgomery - Mar. 6th, 2007
It just gets worse in Iraq.
Today two suicide bombers turned a Shiite pilgrimage into a blood-drenched stampede Tuesday, killing
dozens with the first blast, and then finishing many survivors with a second explosion. At least 106 were killed
amid this most recent of deadly strikes against Shiites heading for a solemn religious ritual.
Hours after the attack in the Shiite heartland of Hillah just south of Baghdad, boys used long-handled
squeegees to push pools of human blood off the road. The pilgrims' shoes and sandals were put into haphazard
"In an instant, bodies were set ablaze, people were running and the ground was mixed with teapots, kettles and
other supplies for pilgrims," Mahdi Kadim, one of the survivors, told the Associated Press (AP).
Such horrors send an equally loud message throughout Iraq and the world: years after starting this false war for
no legitimate reason, U.S.-backed authorities remain virtually powerless to stop suspected Sunni insurgents
who fear the Shiite-dominated, U.S.-backed government will leave them strangers in their own land.
U.S. forces also continue to tally losses due to the sectarian strife, despite signs of more successful raids
against both bases and weapon stockpiles. The military told AP that nine soldiers were killed Monday in two
separate roadside bombings north of Baghdad, making this day the deadliest for U.S. troops in Iraq in nearly a
"A brutal massacre against people who are only practicing their faith" was how Shiite lawmaker Sami al-Askari
correctly described these attacks, which wounded at least 151 people.
At Hillah's main hospital, Dr. Mohammed al-Temimi told AP some of the injuries were critical,and that the death
toll of 106 could rise.
The Hillah explosions came after gunmen and bombers hit group after group of Shiite pilgrims elsewhere. Some
worshippers were in buses, while others made the trek on foot to the shrine city of Karbala, about 50 miles south
of Baghdad. At least 24 were killed in those attacks, including four relatives of Mohammed Mahdi al-Bayati, a
prominent Shiite lawmaker, proving that no one here is really safe anymore.
This week will end with huge crowds of Shiite worshippers gathering for rites which mark the end of a 40-day
mourning period. The reason? The death of Imam Hussein, the Prophet Muhammad's grandson; Hussein died
close to Karbala in a 7th-century battle.
In Hillah, southeast of Karbala, a procession of pilgrims marched toward a bridge checkpoint on the edge of the
city. From nearby tents, food and cool drinks were being distributed.
The first suicide bomber killed dozens and touched off a stampede away from the bridge, said witness Salim
Mohammed Ali Abbas. As the fleeing crowd grew, a second suicide bomber among the multitude blew himself
apart. An AP cameraman at the scene reported that ambulances and Iraqi police soon swarmed the area.
A police commander, Brig. Gen. Othman al-Ghanemi, told AP that the attackers joined the procession outside
Hillah and waited until it reached the checkpoint bottleneck, fulfilling an apparent plan to maximize the damage.
"The government bears some responsibility for this," Shiite parliament member Bahaa al-Araji told AP.
"It has not provided enough security to protect the pilgrims," he added.
In the past two years, the strong Mahdi Army militia has watched over Shiite pilgrimages to Karbala. But under
intense pressure from the Iraqi government, the group agreed to put down its arms to avoid direct
confrontations with U.S.-led forces during their Baghdad security crackdown launched last month.
"This year, things are sadly different," Araji pointed out to AP.
But as one might expect in this now-fractured land, the Mahdi Army itself doesn't have a perfect record when it
comes to protecting religious pilgrimages. In February 2005, a suicide car bomber struck a group primarily
containing Shiite police recruits in Hillah, murdering 125 people.
U.S. forces were also bloodied by the days' attacks. U.S. troops have suffered their deadliest day since Feb. 7,
when 11 American troops were killed--seven when their helicopter was shot down north of Fallujah, and four
others during direct combat.
In a speech to the American Legion in Washington, President Bush said it was "too early to judge the
success" of the Baghdad crackdown.
But it's not too early to judge the results of this meaningless Iraq misadventure, started and maintained by this
president on nothing more than his administration's wishful thinking and outright denials of clear and self-evident
It is disgusting. It is un-American. And it is an utterly fruitless shame.